Monday, September 23, 2013

Almost there!

It has been a couple of weeks of feeling like we are constantly "almost there". Life is once again full on and the weeks have wizzed past in a blur of school runs, busy days at work and bouts of annoying illness. 

We are now, thankfully only a few days away from a much needed end of term holiday. Spring is beginning to arrive and we have seen glimpses of the summer sun and spent the odd sunny few hours in just t-shirts and sunglasses. We have all had the flu and it is still stubbenly refusing to leave us completely meaning that he girls are still slightly snuffly and pale looking when I pick them up from school.

However we have had one very good piece of news this term. We have finally had an offer on our house in the UK. Like many expats when we moved to NZ over four years ago we rented out our UK house. And like many people who bought when we did, our rent failed to cover our mortgage. So over the past few years we have had to send money back to the UK to cover the shortfall on our mortgage. As well as paying rent over here!

So six months ago when be brought our house in NZ, we very bravely decided to kick out our UK tennants and put the house on the market. We have then had months of worry whilst paying two mortgages. Well finally we have had an offer and accepted it! Yippee! Lets hope it all goes smoothly from now on.

I have spoken to many expats who have been in similar positions to us. I do not know what the best solution is. Some have been renting out their property for years and an unlucky few have had theirs on the market for years. With the recent change in mortgage rules over here it is very handy to be able to sell your UK property and come over with a decent deposit otherwise you will have trouble (as some of our friends have) even getting on the property ladder here at all.

I am just grateful that we secured our home when we did. It is so great to be in a house we own and can alter to our own somewhat individual taste. Hence the latest addition to our household. This is Bob the elephant.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reaching the Pinnacles

It has been a gorgeous spring weekend and we made the most of the sunny weather by visiting the Wairarapa region. Its a great drive from Wellington, over the windy and towering Rimutaka mountains and down into the lush green carpeted farmlands of the Wairarapa.

One of the great things about living here is the ability to spend your weekends out in the great outdoors exploring new walks and landscapes. We found a particularly exciting place to visit this week and ended up exploring the Putangirua Pinnacles. These strange rock formations formed the back drop in Lord of the Rings when Aragon goes to find the army of the dead. 

Despite the bright sunshine the area does have an eerie feeling, and along with the many warning signs for possible falling rocks it doesn't make you want to hang around and eat your picnic near the towering rocky outcrops.

However, the hour long walk to reach the Pinnacles does have plenty of great sunny spots for picnics.

I believe the rock formations are made as the whole area is a raised estuary and the rock is constructed of clay and the rocks and loose stones from a river bed. The clay erodes quickly leaving the larger stones supporting the material above and forming the weird tower formations. We were lucky enough to find several semi fossilised shells.

The walk is also made all the more exciting by the couple of stream crossings you have to make. It is deeper than it looks!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sleeping with Hedgehogs

As any expat will tell you, the secret to making a new country home is to put yourself out there and meet people.Well we have been extremely lucky and managed to meet some great people, some of whom we now regard like family.

I still like to get out and meet people and I will admit, I have an ingrained need to feel useful. So I have a weakness for volunteering and agreeing to do things even though I don't always have the time to fit everything in.

This compulsion to be needed has led to a very enjoyable but very busy few weeks. I volunteered to look after me daughters indoor soccer team and to become a Scout Leader for my other daughter. My extremely limited knowledge of soccer makes looking after my daughters team a bit challenging, but watching them win a game and encouraging them to keep battling on is great fun.

Becoming a Scout Leader is also hugely rewarding and has already led to an opportunity to do something very few people get to do. Last week we got to spend a night at Wellington Zoo and take a look behind the scenes. Myself and the other Leaders, and twenty odd very excitable 6 and 7 year old's, got to sleep at the Zoo and feed a few of the animals as well!


Wellington Zoo has a special room equipped with live Hedgehogs, Blue Tongued Lizards, Rats and a stuffed Lion for you to sleep in. When we walked into these fantastical sleeping quarters I have to admit that I was just as excited as the kids. 

We were given a guided tour of the zoo by two very knowledgeable guides and although six year olds have the attention span of guinea pigs on cappuccinos, I found it all fascinating even if we did have to move quickly to avoid loosing the wondering kids in the dark.

I may never visit South Africa in reality, but at least I can now say I have been woken by the sound of Lions roaring in the distance. So despite the fact that I have been totally exhausted for the past week, my house looks like a war zone and the kids are moaning that there is no food in the house, we have still had a fab week :)